I signed a petition asking the Chinese government to respect human rights in China.
A friend, who I forwarded it to, responded with something we can do a little closer to home. The ICBC, a majority state-owned institution, is now a 20% shareholder in Standard Bank. As he says, This means that everyone who banks with Standard Bank is banking with the Chinese government. Your bank fees go part way to buying truncheons for Chinese policemen. You wouldn’t bank with Al’Quaeda Bank. Why bank with China?
Here is the text of a letter he sent to the CEO.
Dear Mr Maree,
You have doubtless read in the papers of the crackdown by the Chinese
government against protestors in Tibet. You may be aware that the Dalai
Lama has accused China of ‘cultural genocide’. Estimates put more than
100 protesters dead, and the Chinese government has sealed Lhasa to
prevent further reporting of activities there. Given their record, there
is no reason for optimism.
I am writing to you because the Chinese government is the majority
shareholder in the ICBC, which has just become a 20% shareholder in
Standard Bank. This means that when I bank with Standard Bank, I am
giving my money to the Chinese government. Some of my bank fees fund
truncheons for Chinese policemen. That makes me deeply uncomfortable.
I believe that we in South Africa have special experience in finding
peaceful solutions, and that it is incumbent upon us to confront
I want to ask you how you, as Standard Bank, a proudly South African
institution, intend to confront your Chinese colleagues. I would like to
know the concrete steps you will take to assist the people of Tibet. And
I would like you to emphasize to your Chinese colleagues that their
reprehensible activities in Tibet will have economic consequences for
their bank in Africa.
Sincerely hoping that China has bought only your bank, not your soul,